On Nick Srnicek’s Laruellian take on a (Non)Subject of Capitalism
As I’m working my way through a selection of the essays in The Speculative Turn, it seems useful to post some thoughts as I go. Today I read Nick Srnicek’s excellent “Capitalism and the Non-Philosophical Subject.” Nick’s article isn’t my first introduction to Laruelle, but of the many articles translated by Taylor Adkins, or summarized by others, I find that the basic idea of Laruelle tends to remain with me, but the specifics seem to flee one I hold them in my head for a bit. As I immerse myself in Larurelle slowly over time, I hope that this effect goes away, as it usually does with enough time with a slippery thinker.
I can’t help but think that Laruelle is the anti-Derrida. That is, his thought is thoroughly deconstructive of the philosophies it uses as its raw materials, even as it proposes its own ‘non-philosophical’ view of the world to take the place of previous philosophies. Notions such as Real, in-the-last-instance, cloning, decision, these are certainly concepts of a quasi-philosophical sort, non-philosophical terms similar, in their way, to Derrida’s non-terms such as the trace, differance, etc. But whereas Derrida seems to me to be an ultimately destructive philosopher, Laruelle leans to the more constructive. His neutral, so similar to Derrida’s, is less pessimistic, it seems to me, it lends itself to more work in this world. Or course, the extent of this remains to be seen.
The networkological project that I’m in the process of articulating is without question, from a non-philosophical perspective, a philosophy. That is, it articulates a world, via terms, and it deduces these terms from each other and from an engagement with the wider world. However, its mode of justification, its unique form of self-grounding, seems to be quite non-traditional, and more in line with Laruellian precepts. For example, the networkological position does not attempt to justify itself, but grounds itself in its own circular movement within itself and in relation to the world. It produces itself quite self-consciously and in self-aware manner by means of the sort of slight-of-hand ‘retroversion effect’ so often criticized by critics such as Lacan, Deleuze, Derrida, Laruelle, etc. And it is quite open to the fact that it is only one relational philosophy, one which will eventually be outdated, for it was produced in relation to a particular fuzzy spacetime locale (ie: anglophone continental philosophical context, my position within this, a particular place in time, etc.). Could we say that a philosophy which constructs itself as philosophy and yet also produces itself as its own clone, so to speak, is itself in some sense in harmony with the non-philosophical project? That is, what does it mean when a philosophy sees itself as merely a contingent production of the Real (to use Laruelle’s terms), one which will eventually relieve itself of any claim on anything, and grounds itself merely in the hopes of being useful (and fully aware of the philosophical limitations inherent in even this sort of term)?
From what Nick describes, there is a distinction between what, in Deleuzian terms, might be referred to as the relative and absolute side of the term which grounds a philosophy, the term which represents, if in non-sufficient fashion, the Real within that philosophy. Certainly, for the networkological project, this would be the notion of the oneand. It is interesting, however, that this notion is also doubled within the networkological project, as the one(and) which is the ‘clothed’ form there of, and the more radical oneand, which is the oneand as pure self-differing emergence. We could say then that there is perhaps a more radical still version, a cloned version of the oneand, which exceeds even its inscription as oneand.
The result is that there is a contual doubling, of the sort described by Laruelle as cloning, whereby we can conceive, in the manner described by Nick, or a multitude and a (non)multitude. Is it possible, however, to concieve of something perhaps in between philosophy and non-philosophy? For Laruelle, it seems the answer is no. But may it be possible for oneday philosophy to be less caught up in its own illusions? For a less harmful version of philosophy itself to arise? Certainly it seems this is what is at stake in the Deleuzo-Guatarrian notion of the shift from subjected to subject group. And many have argued that the ultimate goal of Lacanian psychoanalysis needs to be some sort of formal shift in one’s relation to the symbolic, not merely a shift in contents.
Is a shift in form, the very form of philosophy, possible? Can we, to use a term employed by Nick, integrate some aspects of non-philosophy into philosophy?
The stakes are high, and I can’t help but feel that this is a very, very important question. That is, could we imagine a (non)politics which is itself also a politics? Perhaps this is precisely what needs to occur, a politics with a relative and absolute (non)relation to the Real, one which keeps these two in constant tension.
This is perhaps also why we need to keep a sense of irony and multiplicity in relation to philosophy, considered in the widest sense as worlding. That is, in any conceptual and praxical formation of a world, we need to always keep in mind the potential for the world, at its most basic levels, to be differnet. And to put this awareness (or nonawareness?) of this to work, even as it remains always already outside any relation thereof.